Friday, April 5, 1996
The Ice Storm.
Power was restored by Met-Ed last Saturday evening at 10:15pm; they called me out of a sound sleep and I had to run back to the Garden Center site to turn off the auxiliary smudge pot heaters and get the main heaters back on line. Everything was allright, though.
A survey of damage from the two inches of ice revealed many specimen trees I've had for years completely destroyed. My crews removed them this week and replaced them with other large plant material that will have to grow for a while to fill-in the 'old timers' spots. Too bad; they'll be missed.
Tomorrow, Saturday, April 6th is our 6th Open House. I've invited the York Symphony String Quartet to play Vivaldi all day, Seven Valleys Vineyards will be catering with assorted wines and Messina's Pizza in nearby Stewartstown will be serving great cheese pizza.
At our Grand Opening in 1991, there were over 3,000 people from five or more states. What a crowd! I promoted the hell out of the initial event and people responded. Each year since, our Open House events generate 1,000 to 2,000 people attending; it has become a real social event for people from many states. I still don't know how all these people hear about it; I run ads in Pennsylvania and Maryland, but somehow many others hear about it and come to visit. Cool.
I've had my three five-man crews prepping the 20-acre complex for the event, as well as getting things ready for spring. It was a massive job; repairing all the damage from The Blizzard and The Flood took the better part of three weeks. Many plants missing, damaged or just dead. Beautiful display gardens trashed. Our entranceway water garden collapsed and had to be completely rebuilt. Brick sidewalks and landings pitched and heaved. The damage was pervasive but luckily no structures needed repairs. We were indeed lucky: many other nurseries lost everything in The Blizzard of '96.
There's a lot of business generated as a result of the Open House day; combined with leftover 1995 jobs, Flower Show leads and walk-ins, we're booked for the year. It's a nice feeling.
There's Always Room For Jello.
If you have a landscape job that you want us to do, however, we'll get it done. When I say "booked", there's always one or two jobs that fall between the cracks for some reason. Some people get impatient and want their jobs to be done ahead of those who booked us early in the year, in January and February. Life is a long queue. Get used to it. And with three full crews this year, we're able to do extra work that we purposely limited to two crews in previous years. So contact me, I'll be glad to discuss it with you.
An Amazing Place.
Although it's my birthplace and I have an affinity for both it and the people, York County, PA, is still in the 18th century when it comes to the diversity of plant material used in landscaping. Archaic plants such as yews, arborvitae, white pine, species maples and dozens of no-name rhododendron populate the county to such an extent that the opportunities for other, unusual plants is dimished. Yet, we persevere in the belief that even the arcane can eventually be phased out and replaced with quality material. Most of the old stuff is just that; from the 30's onward and certainly looking like it.
Business As Usual.
After living all around the country in several Hardiness Zones, I was amazed by the absolute lack of hybridized material here. Same-o, same-o from yard to yard. Nothing much unusual, rare or hard-to-find. And that's why I started this operation; to bring York County, albeit slowly into the 20th (and soon the 21st) century, kicking and screaming. Occasionally, we do come across a real specimen, but rarely. A gradual process, to be sure.
There are some other nurseries that have tried to specialize in what we do, but they've been failures for one reason or another. Even good friends who've owned small esoteric nurseries, whom I've made aware of the perils of trying to be all things to all people, have gone by the wayside. A real shame, because at one time, they had something really unique to offer. They couldn't understand what I meant by "owning a Position in the mind". 20-20 hindsight (Chapter 13) has helped them along with this painful lesson.
Catch Us If You Can.
My raison d'etre (reason for being) is the owning of a very vertical market that can be copied but never duplicated by others. And many others have copied almost every move that I've made since day one. The old addage, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" applies: when you see something done well and successfully, don't re-invent the wheel; copy it. To say that it hasn't worked for them would be presumptuous on my part; perhaps a facet of my ideas has generated some additional profit for them. Okay, no problem. But they can't copy style and panache; they don't have what I have to offer a customer. A personality can be imitated, but never copied successfully.
I was the first to be open on Sundays; everyone copied it. At first, I caught hell from the religious right, but my argument was that God's Garden needed tending, even on Sundays. The others copied my product line, diversity of plant material, rare specimens, physical layout and many other things that I innovated, but it didn't work. They lost their customer base to me when their customers found out they were merely imitations, and the real thing was at my location all along. Cool. And thanks.
Last week, I realized that I wasn't the only one with an urge to get outside and play in the dirt. Or just get out and do something other than watch walls and talk to my cats. I haven't watched TV in over a year now, so that's a non-issue. But the thousands of people that have come through the doors already just looking at all the color and smelling the flowers' fragrances have reminded me that I'm not alone. We need a change and soon. Real soon.
Being A Vegan Isn't Easy. Yet.
The Web has many places that one can find good information about dietary needs and facts on nutrition. Like David Siegel's Dietary Page or the popular and definitive Veggies Unite! Page. (Thanks, Lisa!) Last Friday, I quite eating all fish, fowl, meat and stopped using dairy products, among other things after deciding that I wanted to live a healthier lifestyle and loose some bodyfat. Like 40lbs or so. I usually put on 15-20 lbs over the winter, as any bear does, and promptly lose it in April or May. Not so last year and not so far this year.
If you do become a Vegan, don't forget to take the necessary dietary supplements to aid your body, and be sure to check this repository of advice – Consumer Safety: An Official Guide to Dietary Supplements – for good advice and recommendations about each supplement, before you buy them. Get only what you need and only what is safe for you!
Salads and starch are to be the dining fare from now on. I already miss so many foods and snacks that it hurts to think of them. I'm taking myself through an initial body system cleansing of radical proportions right now. There's an actual withdrawl going on from all the chemicals in the processed foods that I've consumed over the years. I've felt a bit sick for the last two or three days but, I'm told by numerous people, that this is "normal" for self-cleansing. Ack! I want some Hagen-Dasz Coffee or French Vanilla ice cream! NOW!
With a background as a part-time gourmet chef (a wonderful relaxation mechanism for entertainment), I have no trouble following the vegan recipes etc from the Veggies Unite Page; there's hundreds of recipes available. And I'm determined. (Somebody email me a BLT on toast, please!)
I just (Wednesday) heard on NOAA Web Weather Page, that it's going to rain lightly over the weekend and be mostly in the 60s. Nice spring weather. But I predict we'll go right to summer, and bypass most of spring. And summer will be like that of 1995s; very hot and dry, extremely low moisture level and high on the misery index.
Weather patterns are changing all the time. That's just normal. But think about how the weather was when you were young and compare that with what it's like now. The difference in that short time is astounding! Seasons are overlapping and the distinctness of the seasonal time frames is blurring each year; winter comes earlier, spring comes later and is cut short by summer, summers are hotter and fall is later and suddenly cut short by an early winter. The cycle repeats itself unendingly. Scary, isn't it, when you realize what it could mean. Let's hope it's wrong.
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